5-Ingredient Roasted Citrus-Brined Turkey Breast

Photo by: Michelle Dudash ©Scripps

Michelle Dudash, Scripps

If the thought of cooking a whole turkey for Christmas dinner scares you, consider roasting just a turkey breast. With its smaller size, cooking takes half the time, and it requires less room in your fridge and oven — a dream come true! You don’t have to worry about sumo wrestling it into submission or trussing, either.

Carving it is a cinch. Marinating the turkey in fresh orange juice produces a juicy interior and crackly brown exterior with a delicately orange-infused, slightly sweet taste. The acidity of the citrus perks up the taste, while reducing the need for added salt. Cooking turkey with the bone in results in a juicier, more flavorful roast.

Ah, yes, the leftovers. Repurpose thinly sliced, fresh roasted turkey into sandwiches, wraps and entree salads paired with avocado, arugula and cranberries. If you’re doing the low-carb thing, simply tuck strips of turkey into lettuce cups and drizzle with Dijon mustard.

5-Ingredient Roasted Citrus-Brined Turkey Breast

Yield: 9 servings


2 large or 3 medium oranges (1 with zest finely grated, all oranges juiced)

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped herbs, like thyme, parsley, sage or basil

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots

1 bone-in, skin-on turkey breast (about 3 1/2 pounds)


Line a medium mixing bowl with a gallon-sized plastic zipper-lock freezer bag and fold over the top inch, forming a cuff. Add the zests and juices, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.

Combine the herbs and shallots. Using your fingers, gently separate the turkey skin from the muscle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Gently stuff the herbs and shallots under the skin. Place the turkey into the bag. Squeeze all the air out of the bag, seal tightly and refrigerate for two nights, rotating the bag on the second day to redistribute the marinade.

At 30 minutes prior to cooking, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and pour off the brine. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Fit an oven-safe cookie-cooling rack in a sheet pan.

Transfer the turkey to the rack. Rub the turkey with 2 teaspoons cooking oil and season on all sides with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, leaving the turkey skin-side up. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees F.

Roast until the skin is browned and the temperature on an internal meat thermometer reads 155 degrees F when inserted into the thickest section of the turkey, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from oven and tent with foil, as the temperature will continue to rise to 165 degrees F.

Allow turkey to rest 15 minutes before slicing, to keep the juices inside the turkey.

Cook’s note: For easier cleanup, line the sheet pan with aluminum foil. Or you can add water to the pan after 30 minutes of cooking — just enough to fill the pan about 1/2 centimeter.

Per serving: Calories 215; Fat 11 g (Saturated 3 g); Cholesterol 96 mg; Sodium 155 mg; Carbohydrate 1 g; Fiber 0 g; Protein 32 g; Vitamin A 0% DV; Calcium 4% DV; Vitamin C 4% DV; Iron 15% DV

Spread the holiday cheer with more delicious dishes and drinks:

Slow-Cooker Holiday Party Recipes

How to Make Edible Holiday Centerpieces

Bobby Flay's Holiday Drinks

Michelle Dudash is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef consultant and the author of Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love.

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